10 Dont’s After a Car Accident
After you’ve been involved in a car accident, there are many recommendations concerning what you should do and how you should behave. However, there are other things to avoid like the plague, and these could be more important. To protect yourself and safeguard your legal rights, we recommend strongly that you refrain from engaging in any of the following behaviors. In particular, you must:
1. Never leave the accident scene. In the state of Nevada, absconding from the scene of a vehicular collision amounts to a criminal offense. If the accident has led to nothing more serious than property damage, leaving the scene will still amount to a misdemeanor. If, on the other hand, bodily injury or death has resulted, anyone guilty of beating a hasty retreat will have committed a Category B felony. These offenses apply to every driver involved, regardless of whether they were or were not responsible for the mishap.
2. Never fail to call 911. Some people feel that involving law enforcement amounts to overkill, especially if nobody has suffered an injury, but in our experience, this is never the case. For one thing, injuries from vehicular accidents will frequently not become apparent until several hours have passed. Furthermore, in any case for which determining fault becomes essential, the lack of a police report could impede or forestall any chance of collecting damages.
3. Never lose your temper. We know that it is natural to feel upset, particularly when it’s clear to you that all fault rests with the other driver. However, loose lips can still sink ships, and in the heat of the moment, anything you say could impede your chances of collecting damages or winning a lawsuit.
4. Never neglect to document the situation in every way possible. This includes exchanging insurance information, taking pictures and collecting the witnesses’ names and addresses. Write down license numbers and note down the time of day, the weather conditions and anything else that might play a role in defending your position. In failing to do this, you could be leaving on the table evidence that you might later need to prove how the accident took place.
5. Never admit that you might be at fault, even if your guilt is obvious. This means being careful not to make such statements as:
- I’m sorry.
- I was running late.
- I never saw you coming.
- I’m trying to get my son to baseball practice on time.
- I dropped my cigarette on the floor and had to pick it up.
6. Never neglect to see a doctor. If your injuries are sufficiently severe, you’ll probably wind up in the hospital, but seeking medical help after any vehicular mishap is always vital. Even if you believe that you are fine or that any injuries you’ve suffered are minor, having a doctor make that determination will be to your benefit. Furthermore, a written report from a medical professional will serve as vital evidence when seeking compensation later.
7. Never speak to an insurance company unless there is a lawyer present. This is true regardless of whether the agent in question represents you or the other party. The biggest objective of any insurer is to pay you as little as possible. They are hoping that the things you say will assist them in meeting this nefarious objective, and the presence of a personal injury attorney will help you avoid making statements that could come back to bite you later.
8. Never accept an insurer’s initial settlement offer. Most insurers will do their best to lowball you, and unless you’ve been through this before, you may fail to realize that your case could be worth far more. We recommend that you never engage in insurance negotiations unless a lawyer is present.
9. Never sue the other party on your own. Although it may seem like a promising idea at the time, any attempt at suing without legal assistance is extremely risky and entirely likely to backfire. These lawsuits are always complicated, and navigating them successfully is almost impossible without the assistance of a personal injury attorney. Unless your case is handled correctly, the judge may dismiss it out of hand.
10. Never fail to seek legal advice when and if appropriate. For most minor accidents, legal assistance may not be necessary. However, the help of a personal injury attorney is vital in cases involving:
- Death or severe injury. This type of accident will almost always eventuate in one or more lawsuits, and damages awarded are likely to be high.
- More than two parties. Cases involving multiple vehicles, drivers or pedestrians will often lead to one or more complicated lawsuits.
- At least one uninsured driver. While most insurers do offer uninsured motorist coverage, it is often insufficient in value to cover your costs. With the help of an attorney, you can often file a civil suit against the uninsured at-fault party to win the damages you deserve.
- A need to collect additional evidence. Access to data captured by surveillance cameras or vehicular black boxes may not be obtainable without a court order. An attorney can help you secure one.
- A desire to settle out of court. Avoiding a trial can save you money, and in any out-of-court settlement, a lawyer can help you obtain the highest-possible damages.
At the law firm of Gregory & Waldo, you’ll find attorneys with experience in representing clients who have been involved in vehicular accidents. for a confidential, no-cost consultation, contact our office today.